(un)GALA events raise $300,000 for business students

2018 unGALA

The School of Business Advisory Board considers itself to be a “doing” board rather than just a “talking” board. And actually walking the talk is producing powerful results for students.

From its modest beginnings with a handful of students nearly 25 years ago, UW Bothell’s School of Business is now nationally known. With more than 1,000 students in two locations and multiple degree and nondegree programs, the school has earned the prestigious accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business — a designation attained by only 5% of business schools worldwide.

The school also has a proven track record of graduating students who are in high demand from businesses in the region. Moreover, according to Washington’s Education Research & Data Center, these graduates do better in terms of initial salary and mid-career pay than the majority of business school graduates in the state.

“Our action-focused leadership is an integral part of our success,” says Dean Sandeep Krishnamurthy. “We bridge academic rigor with relevance to the business world. And, we do this by working as a community.” A key part of that community is the 27-member School of Business Advisory Board.


In 2016, as part of the Campaign for UW Bothell, the board launched the (un)GALA Leadership Dinner and Auction — an event that has become one of the most important in the school’s yearly calendar. More than 200 people attended the 2019 event, raising more than $100,000.

“This is the support that is buttressing our students to transform their lives,” says Sandeep. “Scholarships create dramatic incentives for students to stay in college. They make all the difference. But the (un)GALA is not just about raising funds for our campus,” he adds. “It is about raising awareness of our impact and connecting students with leaders in our community.”

Ivan Idro
2018 student speaker, Ivan Idro

The event weaves together an accessible and engaging “come as you are” approach, bringing together advisory board members, other donors and business leaders, faculty and alumni. Thanks to their financial and professional support, business students are not only benefiting from scholarships but also from networking and real-world experiences they need to get high demand, competitive positions in their fields.

Ivan Idro, a 2019 School of Business graduate who now works for the Boeing Employees Credit Union, recalls a personal connection that transformed his education and career.

“I was working at the Beardslee Public House, just down the road from the UW Bothell campus, when a friendly customer struck up a conversation, asking about my university studies and my future plans.” That customer was Sandeep.

“For an immigrant like me, someone working his way through college, whose parents sacrificed their own promising careers in Uganda so that my siblings and I could earn a world-class American education, that special attention from the dean means the world,” he reflects.

With Sandeep’s encouragement, Ivan, who was plotting next steps at Edmonds Community College, enrolled at UW Bothell’s School of Business. Ivan joined a diverse student body, at home in a class where 38 percent of students are also first-generation students. Ivan was also featured as a student speaker at the 2018 event.


This commitment to student achievement, says Sandeep, is exemplified by (un)GALA co-chair Tanya Fraioli, a local entrepreneur who is founder and CEO of Vivi Pizzeria. “Tanya is a fierce advocate who puts her network to work for the school,” he says. “She is the heart and soul of our event.”

Tanya, for her part, says she is amazed by the shared impact donors make on the School of Business. “Small and large, they all come together to change lives and launch careers,” she says. “The (un)GALA has created scholarships and other educational opportunities for the students who will be — and in many cases already are — leading our business community.

“As the campaign draws to a close,” she adds, “I hope more people support this school, which is so intertwined with our community.”


Speakers at the 2019 (un)GALA included event chair Tom Sulewski, who leads the audit department at the Clark Nuber certified public accounting firm. He’s the advisory board chair-elect and teaches a course in financial audits at UW Bothell as an adjunct professor. His firm has hired about 30 UW Bothell graduates over the past decade.

One of the next UW Bothell students heading for Clark Nuber is Katie Layman. As the student speaker at the 2019 (un)GALA, Katie told the audience that she grew up thinking she wasn’t good at math but that she gained the confidence and skills to major in accounting while at UW Bothell.

Katie Layman
2019 student speaker, Katie Layman

Part of the help she received was a $1,500 scholarship from the School of Business Donor Excellence Fund, which was directly funded by the 2018 (un)GALA. Once math-averse, Katie is already an audit associate at Clark Nuber with an offer of a full-time job after she graduates in March.

“I’m so proud of this school and our students,” says Sandeep, “and I’m even prouder of what our donors’ support is helping us build for the future.

“The members of our advisory board care about our students, our future and this community. They understand that UW Bothell plays a pivotal role in our society and in our economy, and they support us in that role.”

“We’re an outstanding School of Business today,” Sandeep declares, “and we’ll be an even better School of Business tomorrow because our donors care.”